• Junior chef prizes half-baked

    Posted December 5, 2010 at 11:32 am by Alexandra    

    junior masterchef australiaIs it just me, or does anyone else think the MasterChef kids were robbed? Isabella, the winner, received a $15,000 trust fund, the runner up a $10,000 trust fund and the two semi-finalists a $5,000 trust fund.

    But the winner of the adult version, Adam Liaw, got $100,000 and a cookbook deal.

    Why don’t the kids deserve the same amount, plus a cookbook deal? After all, I would think Network Ten would have been able to sell similar amounts of advertising around both shows and thus generate similar revenue from the junior and senior versions, so they would have had the funds to offer the same prize. It really doesn’t seem fair. Plus, both Isabella and runner-up Jack won family holidays to Tokyo Disneyland, which means Isabella’s twin Sofia, one of the final four, will be able to share in this prize. But Siena, who also made the final four, wasn’t afforded the same courtesy.

    Now, I can imagine the deliberations around the table at Ten and Shine Australia, the production house that made Junior MasterChef, about how much money the kids deserved to win. No doubt a perspective was that there would be a public backlash against giving kids too much money. But why would this be?

    I would think such criticisms would have been negated as long as the money was put in a trust fund the kids couldn’t access until they were 18. And by that time, the money would be worth a lot more than what it’s worth today. Although maybe it’s impossible to set up the money this way given it legitimately belongs to the kids.

    I guess the whole topic of children and money is pretty fraught. I understand why it’s not sensible to let most kids get access to tens of thousands of dollars or more. The thinking is that there’s a high risk they would just squander the money. But it seems so would adults.

    Adam Liaw received dubious but widespread media coverage a few weeks back when he went on evening current affairs shows claiming to be broke and homeless, despite his MasterChef windfall. He claims the money’s already gone. So if it’s OK for the adult winner to let the money slip through his fingers, why not the kids?

    Perhaps the MasterChef people don’t want parents pushing their kids to enter just for the money. But as the series showed, only children with genuine talent make it into the final rounds, which weeds out the pushy parents anyway.

    It also irks me that a few years back Network Ten offered Big Brother contestants a million bucks in prize money – without them having to demonstrate any talent whatsoever. But these kids have genuine talent – shouldn’t they receive at least a commensurate amount?

    I had an email exchange with a friend about this topic and she didn’t agree the MasterChef kids were shafted. She wrote: “I think the kids got great exposure on national TV, something to talk about for a long time, a life experience few get to have in a positive and supportive atmosphere (unlike the negative Big Brother environment), an insight into possible future careers, a trip to Disneyland with the family, and made great friends. Is our society getting carried away by money itself?”

    You bet it is – but that’s not the point I’m making. If these kids have demonstrated anything, it’s that they are more than capable of handling challenges most adults would baulk at. If they can cook to an international standard, albeit with support and assistance, shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to earn the same amount as adults in a similar position?

    Given the talent and maturity they have demonstrated, shouldn’t they also be given the opportunity to have control of their own money, with a similar amount of support and assistance as they received when they were on the show – albeit from financial professionals rather than chefs?

    Because by not paying them equally and not giving them the chance to learn how to manage their money themselves, what we’re ultimately telling them is that they’re not worth what adults are and money’s too difficult a thing for them to manage, especially in bulk. And that’s not true. To Network Ten’s new investors Messrs Packer and Murdoch, please consider.

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